There are some great sales people I come across in my work; people who are truly inspirational in their zeal and enthusiasm for a particular product or service.
However, there is a very fine line between genuine passion for the offering and a pointless outpouring of detail and options that can stand in the way of letting the customer make a considered and measured appraisal of the pitch.
Recently, I arranged a presentation by a salesman pitching a sponsorship deal to my FTSE250 company. He had been savvy enough to know that I, as the influencer in all this, needed to be sold the idea first before getting through to the ultimate decision-makers.
His initial pitch was a good one: simple, to the point presenting a clear, concise argument for us to get involved in something that could hugely increase awareness of our brand in a key emerging market.
Naturally, as a businessperson myself, I wanted us to be given the chance to explore this in more detail and set up a formal presentation to the CEO and COO for the salesman to make his pitch.
Yet, instead of just seeing him, we had a small delegation attend the presentation which had suddenly become much more of a broader and, of course, more expensive project than any of us were led to believe from the original approach. So, under this huge barrage of new information, the decision-makers needed more time to pick through the details of the new offering and make up their minds about which, if any of it, they appraised as being most useful for us to get involved. Yet, since the pitch, this salesman has been on the phone, bombarding me with emails and, essentially, annoying the hell out of me for the last few weeks.
Naturally, it’s perfectly understandable that he wanted to upsell in this project and I also take on-board his insistence that the extended pitch was made purely to give us as many options as possible to show the project could be tailored to meet our exact requirements.
But he has shot himself in the foot somewhat by being too accommodating and giving the customer too many options when the original would have been good enough.
So, he still waits, and will have to wait longer, while all the relevant data is sifted through by the various departments designated to assess, analyse and project the costs versus return on investment. This, as anyone working in a medium-sized global organisation will know, is never an overnight process.
While it is still possible that the project will, eventually, get signed off, by complicating things so much the salesman risks the caprice of business where the longer a proposal sits on the table, the more likely it is that something more pressing will blow it off and into the waste paper basket.
The lesson here is very clear: keep it simple and stick to the pitch unless the customer specifically requests different options.
Be quick, get it signed off quick and pocket the money – surely a better way to close a deal?